From Desmond Mgboh, Kano
Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has restated its commitment to uphold the integrity of the ballot in the conduct of the 2023 general election.
INEC Chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, stated this during a media briefing at the commission’s headquarters in Kano, yesterday.
Yakubu, who was in the state to assess the continuous voters’ registration exercise and to inspect some of the commission’s facilities, assured Nigerians that, “the 2023 general election will not only be free, fair and credible, but it will be one in which the votes cast by Nigerians will truly continue to count.”
While acknowledging the successes recorded by the commission in the recent elections in Ekiti and Osun states respectively, he stressed that INEC was not a political party and had no candidate of choice.
“We have no candidate in any election. Our commitment is to uphold the integrity of the ballot. What Nigerians determined at the polling units is what we are going to upload. We would not take any step to the advantage or disadvantage of any political party or candidate,” he said.
Yakubu also assured Nigerians that the commission would continue to deepen the use of technology in the conduct of elections in Nigeria, adding that much of their activities had already gone digital.
He listed some of the activities to include the present voters’ registration exercise and the weekly update of the total number of registrants among others steps taken to digitalise the process.
“The INEC portal has come to stay, where after elections at the polling units results are uploaded in real time. So, Nigerians can see the results even before the election is concluded,” he said.
He charged Nigerians to register on INEC portal to be able to access INEC’s information as they were being uploaded and be part of the happy experience.
“We have overcome the initial challenges of the bimodal voter accreditation system as you saw in Ekiti and Osun, we have no issues with the Verver and we are confident going into the 2023 elections, the Verver will also perform optimally,” he said.
He said in the days to come, INEC would decide whether or not to extend the ongoing continuous voters’ registration exercise, bearing in mind a number of factors.
On the likelihood of registration and elections in places affected by insecurity, he said: “We would not put our staff in harm’s way on account of registration. The law is clear. Even when we conduct elections, the law says where we anticipates there is going to be violence, let us suspend it (where we anticipate it) in the processes leading to the elections.”
He affirmed that INEC was working closely with the security agencies ahead of 2023, adding that, “you will appreciate at this point that it is not something that we are going to go public with.”